Desi ghee, also known as ghrita in Sanskrit, has been popular in India for ages. Ghrita or clarified butter is now well-known in many western countries as well.
Desi ghee is not only used in a wide variety of Indian cuisines. It is also a very significant part of Ayurvedic medicine. Desi ghee or clarified butter even has religious significance in India.
Nowadays, ghee is readily available in markets throughout the world including the U.S. and Europe.
While it may sound like a daunting task to make ghee, its recipe is fairly simple and it can easily be made at home.
This article will give you an easy recipe for homemade clarified butter. We’ll also highlight some other pointers like desi ghee benefits and desi ghee uses in Ayurveda.
Desi Ghee Benefits And Characteristics
Desi ghee has a subtle, sweet taste, delightful aroma, and a golden or golden-brown color.
It’s not recommended to consume large amounts of desi ghee due to its high caloric density. Consuming it in small quantities however comes with a slew of health benefits.
The fatty acid profile of ghee is complex. It contains saturated fats and cholesterol. The exact chemical composition of desi ghee can vary depending on the source of the milk used. Generally, cow or buffalo milk is used to make desi ghee.
Desi ghee is a liquid that solidifies in cold temperatures. It is basically butterfat without the lactose and casein and is thus beneficial for people with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.
At room temperature, it has a longer shelf life compared to butter. The longer shelf life of desi ghee is mainly due to its low moisture content.
It is also full of antioxidants.
Many people prefer cooking with desi ghee instead of butter since it doesn’t burn as quickly. It has a higher smoking point compared to other oils and butter.
Thus, on heating, it doesn’t break into harmful free radicals. Oil smoke can even be harmful to one’s respiratory system.
Desi ghee or clarified butter is used extensively in Ayurveda.
It is used for numerous applications including the treatment of allergies, skin disorders, and respiratory diseases among many other conditions.
Many Ayurvedic preparations involve cooking herbs in desi ghee. Ayurvedic texts describe how desi ghee ensures the maximum absorption of the medicine into the body’s tissues.
It is an excellent anupana (vehicle) or medium. Anupana means a vehicle or medium that gets Ayurvedic deeper into the dhatu or tissues of the body. Desi ghee benefits the body through various mechanisms.
The lipophilic action of desi ghee facilitates the transportation of medicine to a target organ and final delivery inside the cell since the cell membranes also contain lipids.
A study that compared different forms of herbs and herb extracts found that the efficacy of Ayurvedic medicines increased when they were used with ghee.1
The purity of desi ghee can be determined very easily. Take a solidified ghee sample and place a spoonful onto your palm. If the ghee starts to melt, it is pure.
Alternatively, heat a pan and add a spoonful of the sample. If the color of the sample changes to reddish-brown, it is pure. If the ghee takes longer to melt or turns yellow, it is adulterated.
How To Make Desi Ghee At Home
Preparation Duration: 40-50 minutes
Ingredients: 1-2 cups of cream collected from whole milk or regular milk (3.25% fat)
You can use either of these ingredients for making desi ghee.
- Boiled milk, when cooled in the refrigerator for a day, forms a thick layer of cream. This cream is collected for a while and made into butter. This butter is then used to make clarified butter or desi ghee.
- Alternatively, you can use store-bought butter to make desi ghee.
- Some people use yogurt to make butter. The yogurt is first made from regular or whole milk and the cream is separated from the yogurt for making butter that is later used for making desi ghee.
Making Butter From Milk or Yogurt
1. Collect the cream from the milk or yogurt. Since you have to collect this cream over a period of days, adding two teaspoons of yogurt into the cream container will help in preserving it till enough has been collected.
2. Collect this cream until you have enough to fill 1-2 cups. Always keep the cream container in the refrigerator.
3. Defrost the cream you have collected. You may use a microwave for this. You can also keep it out in room temperature until it defrosts. For churning, you can use any blender or food processor.
4. Add the cream to the blender and add around ½ – 1 cup of water and blend the ingredients till the cream smoothens. The continuous churning process will cause the butter to separate and you will see butter bubbles forming on the top of the liquid.
5. Separate this butter from the liquid and collect in a container. Hard-press the butter lumps further to extract more liquid from it.
6. Your homemade butter is now ready. You can use a spoon, spatula, ladle or a wooden whisk called a mathani.
Making Ghee From Butter
1. Heat the extracted butter in a deep utensil on a low flame/low-heat till it melts. You want to avoid using high heat as this will burn the mixture and make your clarified butter bitter in taste.
2. When the butter starts melting, bubbles will start appearing. Stir this mixture thoroughly.
3. After 20-25 minutes of slow cooking, the foam formed thus far will settle down and all the moisture will have evaporated by now.
4. The remaining sediment will start turning golden in color. The leftover milk granules will also settle down.
5. Scoop the sediment or strain it through a sieve into a clean container. Throw out whatever doesn’t get filtered.
6. Your homemade ghee is ready for use. This ghee should have a shelf life of 8-10 months or more depending on the surrounding climate and other factors.
Clarified Butter Uses and Benefits According To Ayurveda
These are the uses of ghrita as described in Charaka Samhita.2
- It is helpful in managing Pitta dosha and Vata dosha problems.
- It is beneficial for rasa dhatu, shukra dhatu, and ojas.
- It is helpful in relieving burning sensation.
- It makes the skin softer.
- Improves the quality of one’s voice and complexion
Indications For Administration 3
- Problems related to aggravated or low Vata and Pitta dosha.
- Maintaining eyesight.
- Chest injuries.
- Weakness or emaciation.
- Elderly and children.
- Increasing physical strength
- Better skin complexion
- Better voice
- Facial luster or glow
- Softer skin
- Nourishment of the body
- Increasing ojas or immunity.
- Improving cognition
- Burns, wounds, and other injuries.
Chemical Composition of Desi Ghee 4
Desi ghee contains 99-99.5% fats and less than 1% moisture, unsaponifiable matter and traces of charred casein, carotene, and fat-soluble vitamins.
Some findings also suggested that desi ghee prepared by traditional ayurvedic methods as compared to commercially prepared desi ghee contains a higher amount of DHA; Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which is a major component of retinal and brain tissues and remains important in the prevention of various diseases. Desi ghee has other benefits as well.
Scientific Research on Clarified Butter 5
Clarified butter or desi ghee has a slew of benefits that have been further substantiated by scientific research. A clinical study done on rats showed that consumption of 10% ghee may increase triglyceride levels, but does not increase lipid peroxidation processes that are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
In another clinical study, a dose-dependent decrease in serum total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides was observed; decreased liver total cholesterol, triglycerides, and cholesterol esters; and a lower level of nonenzymatic-induced lipid peroxidation in liver homogenate.
Similar results were obtained with heated (oxidized) ghee. When ghee was used as the sole source of fat at a 10% level, there was a large increase in oleic acid levels and a large decrease in arachidonic acid levels in serum lipids.
A study done on a rural population in India showed a significantly lower prevalence of coronary heart disease in men who consumed higher amounts of ghee.
High doses of medicated ghee decreased serum cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, and cholesterol esters in psoriasis patients. There were significant improvements in the patients’ psoriasis symptoms as well.
MAK-4, a herbal mixture containing ghee, increased the resistance of LDL to oxidation in hyperlipidemic patients and had no effect on levels of serum total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, or triglycerides in these patients.
Other mixtures containing ghee have shown hepatoprotective effects, anticonvulsant activity, effects on enhancement of memory, and enhancement of wound healing.
These positive research findings support the beneficial effects of ghee as described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. However, these studies are done on a limited number of people under controlled environment and require further investigations.
You should always consult your Ayurvedic practitioner or primary healthcare provider before introducing ghee into your diet.
- Sharma, Hari, et al. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215354/#ref3.
- Charak Samhita, part-1, Sutra sthan,13/14, page no.199, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Charak Samhita, part-1, Sutra sthan,13/41-43, p.no.204, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Joshi, Kalpana S. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014.
- Sharma, Hari, et al. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2010.